It's Friday: Questions You Shouldn't be Asking and This Week's Name Calling

The Week in Search

Silly search marketing questions and more stupidity.

Things a Search Marketer Should Never SayAre you basing your campaign optimization on made-up data?

The Search Agents' Ted Ives reminds me a lot of Brian Carter: his posts are a perfect combination of humor and education, and this week was no exception. Top 10 Coconut Headphones Moments in SEM reminds us that search engine marketing should be based on proper analytics and real data. If you aren't familiar with coconut headphones, they were created by Pacific Islanders trying to mimic the actions of the U.S. military when Americans received equipment and supplies. The natives thought the rituals would bring goods from the gods (think The Gods Must be Crazy)--they created their own headphones to flag down nonexistent planes.

Sure, it's easy to judge these cultures for their actions, but it's time to ask yourself: are you doing the same thing with search marketing? Below are a handful of Ted's moments and some of my favorite excerpts from his post:

  1. It’s not statistically significant, but the data we have suggests it’s performing well: It’s human nature to want to put things in a box and tie a nice ribbon around them, but if it’s not statistically significant, then all you can really say is, “we have no idea if it’s performing well or poorly – yet."
  2. Bleeders are bad, so we should cull them wherever possible: Culling [long tail] keywords too aggressively is like going to Vegas and putting nickels into every slot machine in the casino, then slowly eliminating slot machines that don’t seem to be “performing”. If you do that long enough, you won’t be putting nickels into any slot machine at all.
  3. I don’t care what the math says, we need to [insert action here]: Search Marketing is the ultimate ROI-driven marketing activity; numbers are what it’s all about.
  4. I always bid $1.01, $1.03, or $1.05 rather than $1.00 because I figure the other guy is bidding $1.00: If your bid is that close to your competitor’s bid, the Quality Score difference will very likely overwhelm any such extremely minor difference.
  5. We have extensive bid optimization technology developed in-house: All too often, an agency’s in-house technology behind the scenes is based on…OK, I’ll say it…”Excel.” Microsoft Excel has its place of course and it’s a great tool – but it’s like a cruiser; you really need it in combination with an aircraft carrier to get the job done right.

What's With all the Name Calling?

Last week, I praised Andy Atkins Kruger's "It's the Keywords, Stupid," blog post for reminding search marketers to get back to the basics of keywords. This week, Matt McGee posted "Bing: It's The Relevancy, Stupid" on Search Engine Land which makes another good point regarding how users evaluate Bing. Sure, Bing looks pretty cool and there's interesting information on the left side of the screen for every search and so on, but a cool design isn't what brings in the users. According to a report from J.P. Morgan, adults were asked what Bing's single greatest strength was and nearly 40% selected relevance of results. Comparatively, less than a combined 20% chose either organization or user interface.

Matt's absolutely right here--"As long as searchers believe Google has the most relevant results, all the new design ideas in the world may not make a difference." Oops, sorry Bing...Your new site looks nice and all, but it will take a lot more than cute animals on your homepage and nifty left-hand navigation to get me to convert from Google to Bing.

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